The Follow-Up Question 60 Minutes Should Have Asked

I just finished watching Steve Kroft’s report on the battle for concealed carry reciprocity on 60 Minutes. I would suggest everyone either watch it or read the transcript. The episode was better than I hoped though you still could hear the sneer in Kroft’s voice when he asked Tim Schmidt if you should be allowed to carry “anywhere”. Schmidt, to his credit, gave a one word answer – “yes”.

One of the people interviewed was Robyn Thomas of the Giffords Law Center who is adamantly opposed to carry reciprocity. Trying to make a point on how much stricter a may-issue state like California is on who gets a permit, she said:

Someone who lives in Nevada, who’s able to carry a loaded, concealed weapon in Nevada could now bring that loaded gun into Los Angeles, into San Francisco, and carry their loaded weapon, even though in San Francisco that’s not someone who would get a permit.

 Kroft’s follow-up question was a softball asking wouldn’t reciprocity “usurp” the gun laws of anti-gun places like New York, LA, and Chicago. This brought the expected “yes” answer.

The question that should have been asked – and the responsible question to ask if one wasn’t biased – is how many carry permits have been issued in San Francisco. While I had a good idea it was a slim number, I reached out to Brandon Combs of the Firearms Policy Coalition and Cal-FFL to get an accurate answer. According to him, historically, the total number for both San Francisco city and county for the last two decades has ranged between 0 and 15.

Think about that. In a city and county (they are coterminous) of approximately 800,000 residents, at most 15 permits have been issued at any one time. In other words, unless you are the most connected person in San Francisco, you are not getting a permit.

Moreover, while San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego issue very few, if any, permits, there are approximately 90,000 permits in California. Many of these are issued in a virtually shall-issue manner by a number of other California counties. These permit holders are legally able to carry in any city or county in the state including both LA and San Francisco.

Never forget that our civil rights opponents and their media allies will shade the truth when it serves their purpose. Robyn Thomas did it in the interview and Steve Kroft perpetuated it by not asking the questions that should have been asked.

UPDATE: Professor David Yamane details his experiences when he asked about getting a carry permit in San Francisco back in 2013. He knew the answer going in but thought he’d ask anyway.

The Question Not Asked On 60 Minutes

Lesley Stahl had a long piece on so-called smart guns last night on CBS’ 60 Minutes. She talked to a lot of people including New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg. Here is the part of the transcript where Stahl speaks with Weinberg and intersperses it with comments from a Maryland FFL.

Loretta Weinberg, the New Jersey state senator who authored the law, didn’t foresee its consequences.

Loretta Weinberg: We passed that bill to help spur this technology.

Lesley Stahl: It appears it totally backfired because it spurred this passionate objection to the gun.

Loretta Weinberg: Because of the intervention of the NRA and the Second Amendment folks.

Lesley Stahl: That, they say, the reason they intervened is because of the mandate.

Loretta Weinberg: Right. It isn’t the law that’s stopped the development. It is the people who threatened folks who actually wanted to sell such a gun.

Andy Raymond came to realize that even if he had sold the Armatix gun in Maryland, it might’ve triggered the mandate, banning the sale of regular handguns in New Jersey.

[Andy Raymond: The people of New Jersey: my apologies. You got nothing to worry about from me.]

Andy Raymond: I did apologize. I’m… I’m sorry. Sorry to this day.

Lesley Stahl: Did you actually sell any of the Armatix guns?

Andy Raymond: No.

After his case came to her attention, the New Jersey senator offered to rescind the mandate if the gun lobby publicly removed its opposition to smart guns. She’s yet to hear back.

Loretta Weinberg: They seem to oppose almost everything. Anytime we suggest anything we’ve gotten very little cooperation back.

Lesley Stahl: If the law were completely repealed, do you think that the gun lobby would then let this go forward?

Loretta Weinberg: No.

Earlier in the story, Stahl said that the so-called smart guns could help on-duty cops because it would prevent criminals from using the cop’s gun on the cop as has been the case so often. As the story shows, it worked for James Bond in the movie Skyfall when a bad guy tried to shoot 007 with his own gun.

The New Jersey Childproof Handgun Law mandates that once the Attorney General of that state certifies that so-called smart or personalized handguns are available for retail sale anywhere in the United States that only these sort of guns can be sold to consumers in New Jersey. However, there are exceptions and the biggest one is this:

b. The provisions of this section shall not apply to handguns to be sold, transferred, assigned
and delivered for official use to: (1) State and local law enforcement officers of this State; (2)
federal law enforcement officers and any other federal officers and employees required to carry
firearms in the performance of their official duties and (3) members of the Armed Forces of the
United States or of the National Guard.

 Given this large and glaring exception to the personalized handgun mandate in New Jersey, why didn’t Ms. Stahl ask Sen. Weinberg something along these lines:

Stahl: Sen. Weinberg, given that police officers guns are often turned on them by criminals, why did you specifically exempt law enforcement officers from your bill?


Weinberg: Ummm. Because cops need a reliable gun and this technology is not reliable? Can we get back to talking about how it is the NRA’s fault that none of these guns are available for sale!

I would posit that Stahl did not ask the question because she already knew the answer or, at least, the producers of the segment knew it. To ask the question would have muddied the narrative and that just wouldn’t do.

You can see the whole episode here.